Friends keep Anuenue Park safe and fun for the North Hawaii community

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<p>Greg Fredericks, Ric Castillo and Ken Block, renovate the Anuenue Playground volcano. Block helped with the original playground. (COURTESY PHOTO BY MICHELE CHAVEZ-PARDINI FOR NHN)</p>
<p>Greg Frederick, Mick Chavez-Pardini, Kathy D’Assis and Tyler Coney pose in front of the finished volcano. (COURTESY PHOTO BY MICHELE CHAVEZ-PARDINI FOR NHN)</p>
<p>Hans Torweihe, builder meister, artisan and craftsman, works on the volcano. (COURTESY PHOTO BY MICHELE CHAVEZ-PARDINI FOR NHN)</p>
<p>Greg Fredericks, Taylor Kapuniai and Ric Castillo work on a climbing net on the volcano. (COURTESY PHOTO BY MICHELE CHAVEZ-PARDINI FOR NHN)</p>

Many people consider Anuenue Playground, the heart of Waimea. This special Playground at Waimea Park, was conceived, funded and constructed by the community almost 20 years ago. While the park is in need of repair, it is still loved and used daily by many keiki in our community.

The original project, piloted by Kathy Long, John Ray and the Waimea Outdoor Circle, involved hundreds of helping hands and donations – from pennies donated by children to deep-pocketed gifts and thousands of volunteer hours.

For many years the playground was maintained by the Outdoor Circle and other volunteers. When that stopped, county Parks & Recreation staff had to pressure wash and reseal playground equipment, as well as remove rotted and dangerous features, including the swings and parts of the volcano.

Then, in 2011, Waimea resident Mel Macy, a public park advocate, secured a donation of a truckload of concrete from West Hawaii Concrete. Two replacement swing sets were fabricated; thanks to Parks &Recreation Superintendent Carl “Deac” deCamp with support from Councilman Pete Hoffmann. Volunteers Alex Woodbury and Fred Dickson donated their equipment and time to dig out new footings and help county P&R staff pour concrete to install the swing sets.

Meanwhile, Sherman Warner and others put in hours to research repair or replacement options for Anuenue playground. Waimea Preservation Association set aside funds from Waimea Outdoor Circle to have the park evaluated. With many projects moving forward in the community, the repairs had been put on the back burner.

Recently, after meeting with the county, a Friends of the Park Committee was registered with the county to restart the park repairs.

This past weekend, a volunteer group of about 10 people began repairs on the volcano at the playground. Over the years, the cargo net had broken and ultimately the structure was boarded up. Kai Pono Builders, installed the posts on Friday. The Friends of Anuenue Playground volunteer group showed up at 8 a.m. on Sunday, rebuilt the existing cargo net, installed new cargo net on the other side, repaired the benches and stained the volcano feature.

This was the first of what is expected to be many work days needed to restore Anuenue Playground and bring it up to current safety standards. Although most of the park is still structurally sound, time is of the essence to repair this treasure. The Friends of the Park Committee will need to raise funds for future repairs. If you are interested in contributing funds or time, please contact them at